Wednesday, April 12, 2017

No Equal Measure

Two seemingly unrelated occurrences this week came together in an interesting confluence: Holy Week and math lessons on units of measurement . There has been a steady stream of students coming in to the Resource Room this week for help on comparing standard and metric units. How many cups in a quart, how many milliliters in a liter, if Sam drinks 3 quarts of water is that more than 2 liters and what should I use to measure the size of my headache after thinking about all this?

Anyway, as usual the students I saw showed fortitude and perseverance that inspired me to work through the hard questions with them. But all this thinking about measurement got me to thinking about how often I attempt to measure things that I shouldn't be measuring. Teacher life is full of opportunities to measure. Teachers measure pounds of papers, sizes of classrooms, cups of coffee needed on Monday, pencil lengths, and voice levels among their students on any given day in April. That is the nature of the job, but the thought that occurred to me this Holy Week is that I am prone to measuring and comparing the very things that should freely flow from my heart.

We aren't meant to keep track of the number of times we had to smile at a student before we got a smile back. We aren't meant to measure how many times we have done that small act of kindness or how much recognition we got for it. It's not productive to count how many affirmations we give out and how many we receive.  We sometimes wonder if pound for pound, we have put more effort into a project than someone else. We hold onto some love if we feel the other hasn't made a big enough deposit into our happiness account because we imagine we might feel better somehow if we wait until it's equal.  It might cross our minds that we have extended more grace than we have been shown at times and soon we are placing limits on the capacity of our hearts that can actually be overflowing, poured out, and readily refillable.

So, here is where Holy Week comes in. Working at a Catholic School I am reminded, every hour on the hour, that the biggest measure of love and grace, is the cross.  I looked at the image of Jesus today hanging on the cross and had to let it get real.  I just can't find any unit greater, heavier, or containing more capacity than the mass of that wooden cross. When my father was still alive, he gave the homily at my daughter's wedding. He was talking about love and the kind of love that it takes a marriage to work. He reached into his pocket and handed a small crucifix to the young man marrying his granddaughter. "Here," he said, "this is love."  A startled young man accepted the 8 oz. cross and the charge to love without measure.

So, there it is- my strange juxtaposition on math and the occasion of Holy Week. I hope to love more, to give more, to live larger, and to stop measuring the unmeasurable.

"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for his friends."
John 15:13